Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
There was a bit of news unveiled today at the PaleyFest: Made in NY panel for Nurse Jackie: Tony Award winner Julie White has joined the Showtime comedy’s cast as a regular for Season 6. It had been announced last week that White would be recurring, but exec producer Clyde Phillips confirmed that she is “now a series regular,” beginning with the first episode. She is playing Antoinette, a brassy Southern real estate agent who becomes the AA sponsor of Jackie Peyton’s (Edie Falco) after the drug-addicted ER nurse falls off the wagon at the end of Season 5. The series is completing shooting on its second episode following a season-finale climax in which Jackie pops a pill stashed in her wedding ring box at a party celebrating the one-year anniversary of her sobriety. Concurrently, Adam Ferrara — whose cop character Frank was written into the series as Jackie’s love interest last season — is back for Season 6, cementing his status as a regular. Ferrara previously was a regular on the FX firefighter drama Rescue Me, and he was asked by audience member at the panel how it was different being on a show like Nurse Jackie that was decidedly less “testosterone-driven.” “It smells better,” he quipped, “but I’m very fortunate to have had both experiences — testosterone and estrogen.” He thought about this for a moment and then added, “I could probably create life by myself.”
Besides Phillips and Ferrara, the PaleyFest panel — moderated by TV Guide editor-in-chief Debra Birnbaum — also featured star Falco, exec producer Richie Jackson and regulars Anna Deavere Smith, Betty Gilpin and Merritt Wever – who won the Emmy for comedy supporting actress last month and memorably gave an acceptance “speech” that consisted of: “Oh, my God. Thank you. Thanks so much. Thank you so much. I’ve got to go. Bye.” Asked early on if her surprise Emmy triumph had yet sunk in, Wever still seemed uncomfortable with the topic. “Oh yes. It has,” she replied. “People were very sweet about it.” And what about her speech? “It got quite a reaction,” Wever admitted. “I feel like I lucked out. I was forgiven and lauded.” The fact that her odd and almost non-existent speech became the subject of understanding and gentle satire rather than derision left her “relieved and grateful,” she said. “It could have gone the other way. … It makes people uncomfortable to see people who are uncomfortable.”
Otherwise, the PaleyFest event was a lively affair that got started some 20 minutes late and then stretched for roughly 75 minutes, or about 25 more than the average panel. The shocking conclusion to the fifth season was dissected and re-dissected. And as shooting in New York is the theme of this five-day PaleyFest event, the producers offered up the obligatory praise about the city “being its own character” in the show. But Falco went further in her assessment of the city where she was born and raised. “It’s hard to believe so many humans live in such a teeny space as this,” she observed. “Something happens to people who have to live like this. Your sense of personal space and attitude changes. You become angrier and maybe a little more sensitive.” She added that, like lab rats being observed in scientific experiments, New Yorkers are “just a little cuckoo” and believes that distinctive nature is reflected in those who pass through the dysfunctional doors of Nurse Jackie.
The series is set to return in the spring.